Politics – That’s Fascist!

Earlier in the week I shredded Jonah Goldberg for his book “Liberal Fascism”, and mentioned that “Conservative Fascism” would be a false title as well. I want to follow through a bit on that, because I believe, at root, fascism, or at least its most dangerous behaviors, is apolitical. Anybody can be a fascist. And when I say “anybody”, I mean it.

Defining fascism is tricky, intellectually and politically, so I’m going to go with a fairly simple definition of all citizens think the same way, with control strictly enforced.

Fascism isn’t political because politics are inherently about negotiation, about systems to get different groups of people to choose goals and methods of reaching those goals a majority of people can agree with. Any just political system is fairly complex because as anybody who’s tried to rent a movie with three other people knows, there are wildly varying notions of what’s a good goal and what’s a good method. Anybody who acts unilaterally is eventually going to find their backs to the wall, as the Bush administration started learning the hard way in 2000 with the resignation of Jim Jeffords.

I don’t happen to believe there’s any perfect political system; just like engines, there’s nothing resembling 100% efficiency, and I think it’s a bit naive to expect one. All we can do is try and include people the best we can.

Fascism, on the other hand, is “Believe what I believe, or I’ll fucking kill you.” It’s apolitical because it taps into a very terrifying and common human urge: we are us, they are Them, and They Are Wrong. To say this is powerful is to understate the case: we’re predisposed to form tribes, to locate affinities with other people and get in groups with them. Add to that political power, firearms, or what have you and we have a problem in fairly short order.

A story worth sharing: I went to high school in Brattleboro, Vermont, an exceptionally liberal enclave in a state that’s not actually that far to the left. There’s a strong far-left presence in the town, consisting mostly of what people actually born in the State think of when they refer derisively to “fucking Flatlanders”, and also a fairly conservative streak, especially as regards to the high school, as it included a lot of sons and daughters of local farmers.

At one point, a problem came up: the local largely self-proclaimed “redneck” kids had Confederate flag decals in their pickup trucks. Now, to anybody with a working brain (or with a mother from Texas and plenty of time spent in the Southeast, like yours truly), a Vermont flying a Confederate flag is incredibly freakin’ funny. But not so to the fine far-left types who were also sending their children to this school, and wanted these symbols of terrible racism removed. Not withstanding that these people had, voluntarily mind you, moved to what is now and has been for a while the whitest state in the Union. I’m all for fighting racism, but self-reflection should be the first step in doing so.

Anyway, the issue became so severely charged that a student was surrounded and nearly beaten. By the children of the hippies.

That’s what I mean when anybody can be fascist. Sometimes people believe that what they’re doing is for the good of all, never once asking how they can possibly be qualified to know that. Sometimes people just want to impose their will on others because, and there’s no other word for it, they’re monsters, whether they’re insecure wrecks or overconfident terrors.

Any truly political person, whether right or left, must constantly be on guard for this sense of “They are other, and they are wrong.” I’m not a fan of the current Republican leadership, but that doesn’t mean I automatically dislike all Republican ideas. For example, ensuring government spends its money wisely and preferably not overspend is a superb idea: I just happen to disagree with their methods of getting there. I strive to keep an open mind, and I know plenty of people on all parts of the spectrum who do the same.

But it can be hard to resist our baser natures, and we make it harder every passing day. Human beings in the modern world no longer really have to confront anything they don’t want to hear. We can, and many of us do, lock ourselves in an echo chamber, whether we only read blogs that cater to our beliefs, or even actively shut out or campaign to shut down people who disagree with us.

It makes me wonder about the future, often late at night. Peril always seems more imminent than it is, but that can be cold comfort. But probably the most scary thought I’ve had in a while is this:

People actually like that echo chamber, and they like it because it’s easy.

How do you counteract that? I wish I had the answer.

Recommended further reading: “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer.


2 Responses to “Politics – That’s Fascist!”

  1. Mike C Says:

    I so love that you’ve gone on this epic tear against Jonah Goldberg. Did I provoke this?

    • seitzeeing Says:

      Indeed. I’d forgotten Goldberg had written that piece of shit. Then I found his Twitter and hilarity ensued.

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